Advocates call for Royal Commission into treatment of people with disabilities


Written by Batool Al Sallakh

Produced for online by Lily Nothling

More than 100 top academics from around the country have penned a letter to Malcolm Turnbull calling for a Royal Commission into violence against people with disabilities.

Doctors and professors have expressed their concern about the abuse and neglect experienced by these groups.

Source: Pixabay.

Deakin University senior lecturer  in Disability and Inclusion Dr Patsie Frawley signed the letter and thinks a Royal Commission is necessary for starting a much-needed dialogue.

“[A] Royal Commission is one of those things that could potentially…draw out the issue, particularly putting it within the public attention,” she says.

“Having a look at it from an objective approach…would be really worthwhile.”

Dr Frawley says a Royal Commission is only a step in the right direction.

“The other approaches of course that are needed are ongoing advocacy [and] ongoing legal reform in terms of individual cases in particular,” she says.

She says more attention should be brought to the harrowing details of assault.

She lists physical assault, restrictions on people’s physical movements, emotional abuse and sexual abuse as some of the ways people are suffering.

Dr Frawley criticised the NDIS as inadequate, saying it wouldn’t go anywhere near addressing all the relevant issues.

“I think [the NDIS] is in fact smoke and mirrors,” she says.

Advocacy organisation People with Disability Australia chief executive officer Ngila Bevan says everyone should support the call for a Royal Commission.

She says they have been campaigning for awareness of violence against people with disabilities for years and a Royal Commission is a good avenue to dealing with the problem.

“It would enable people to tell their story and to give evidence in a safe and supported way,” she says.

She says a Royal Commission would also compel witnesses to come forward, and provide an opportunity to examine all the different forms of violence experienced by people with disabilities.

However Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia CEO Geoff Roe says a Royal Commission on its own will not resolve the issue.

“What we really need safeguards today, we need action today and we need changes in the attitudes and behaviour from the broader community towards people with a disability,” he says.

Mr Roe says protections from the NDIS are more effective.

“There is a requirement within that legislation for a quality and safeguards framework to be implemented [and] work is currently occurring on that.,” he says.

“Whatever changes we need to make need to be made now and included now, rather than waiting for the outcome of a Royal Commission.”


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